Four-legged friends causing mayhem in the rental market!

In the biggest shake-up to the Victorian Residential Tenancies Act in more than two decades, a raft of new laws came into effect in March 2021. Covering everything from allowing renters to make minor modifications to the rental property to limiting rent increases to just once a year, the 132 amendments aim to “make renting fairer” for Victoria’s 1.5 million tenants. Among the most contentious of these government reforms is the new pet clause, which makes it easier for renters to have four-legged friends in the home.

  • September 15th, 2021
Australians have one of the highest rates of pet ownership in the world – almost 29 million of them, according to the latest Animal Medicines Australia report – so it’s no surprise to us that this change is one our clients ask about most frequently. So, what does the new pet law mean for renters and rental providers? What are the new laws? Under the new law, renters must fill out a Consumer Affairs Victoria Pet Request Form for every pet they wish to keep on the premises (other than assistance dogs, which are already permitted under the Equal Opportunity Act). Rental providers (ie landlords) cannot “unreasonably refuse consent”, and have 14 days to respond to the request. If they don’t respond, the renter has the automatic right to keep the pet. To deny the application, a rental provider must now go to the Victorian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (VCAT), where a tribunal member will make their determination based on considerations like the type of pet, the nature of the property and other relevant laws such as council regulations. If VCAT makes an order excluding the pet from the premises, the renter has 14 days to comply or they could face a 28-day Notice to Vacate. Since the reforms came into effect, VCAT has received close to 350 applications relating to pets. Only about 20 have proceeded to a final determination – and only one determination has been in favour of the rental provider. Renee Whitehouse, Director of Property Management at The Property Mentors, said wait times for a pet request hearing were extensive. “Currently VCAT receive an average of 10 urgent repair hearings per day, so they’re put through first,” she said. “Pet requests are considered non-urgent VCAT matters. With the impact of COVID, and the new legislation coming in to effect on March 29, the backlog for anything non-urgent is pushed to the bottom of the VCAT hearing pile.” How can a property manager help?


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